When news first broke that Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele died a decade ago, fans were skeptical as the well-known jokester had previously sparked rumors of his own death just five years earlier. Alas, on April 14, 2010, it became painfully evident that the news was true. Once reality set in, the collective devastation and heartbreak among fans was palpable. The legend had become the incarnation of one of his most prominent lyrical themes: death.
But Steele wasn’t all death and darkness. He was sardonic and quick-witted, a vampiric Pagliacci masking his pain with sharp-tongued humor. He was erotic and romantic, a starry-eyed lover who wore his perversions on his sleeve. He was soft, yet hard around the edges, a sensitive no-nonsense Brooklyn boy who could either “love you to death” or kick your ass.
Indeed, Peter Steele was a multi-faceted man with many layers wrapped around the depths of his tortured core, which was not only reflected in his musical prowess, but also reiterated in interviews from those who had known him.
The absence of Steele has left a massive void within metal. You can still hear the influence that Type O Negative had on so many bands that have since come to fruition, and yet, none can hold a candle to the legend himself. And while Type O has served as massive inspiration to many bands to emerge from the gothic metal scene, there were also dozens of bands from which Type O Negative drew their own inspiration.
Today, we remember Peter Steele by examining 11 eclectic covers done by Type O Negative, some of which are not as known as the rest. So take a listen and remember the Green Man with us.
"How would I like to die? I don't know. It wouldn't really matter so long as I thought I'd made a difference in the world." — Peter Steele, 1962-2010.
"Pictures of Matchstick Men" (With Ozzy Osbourne)Originally by Status Quo
“Pictures of Matchstick Men” is an English rock classic and it made proper sense for Type O Negative to recruit a bonafide English legend for their spin on the iconic song. Who better to tap for this cover than the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne? There’s a demo version floating around with Pete Steele’s vocals (heard here), which makes this especially exciting, but hearing Type O perform with one of their chief influences is where “Pictures of Matchstick Men” tops out. —JD
"Highway Star"Originally by Deep Purple
Type O Negative gives a total makeover to this classic Deep Purple song, rendering it nearly unrecognizable. This staple rock ’n’ roll jam is transformed into something that teeters on the line of punk rock with little tinges of darkness throughout. And it still rips just as hard as the original! —KI
"Hey Pete"Originally by Billy Roberts as "Hey Joe"
Type O played the cover game fast and loose, adapting songs to fit their needs and, frankly, to amuse themselves. Lord Petrus Steele switched up the lyrics on the Billy Roberts original “Hey Joe,” which was later popularized by Jimi Hendrix. He made himself the subject of the song as he sought revenge on an unfaithful girlfriend with an aim to end her life with an axe. —JD
"Back in the USSR"Originally by The Beatles
Opening your set with a cover song is a gutsy move, but Type O Negative were risk takers, not that it was really much of a risk for a band obsessed with atypical values. For all the sarcastic, funereal business the band so often immersed themselves in, selecting The Beatles’ “Back in the USSR” to kick off the Dead Again tour gigs served as a natural party starter. There’s no fuckery afoot here as Steele and co. (that’s probably the name of an actual steel company somewhere) stick closely to the original and with good reason — even these guys had to kick back and be upfront and honest now and then. —JD
"Light My Fire"Originally by The Doors
If you think about it, this iconic song by The Doors was tailor made for Type O Negative. Not only are both bands known for robust keyboards and sensual, hypnotic vocals, but Type O was also known to draw influence from the late 1960s / early 1970s. —KI
"Day Tripper" (Medley)Originally by The Beatles
Considering the era in which the Type O Negative boys grew up, it’s no surprise they were heavily influenced by The Beatles. This medley contains slices of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," "Tomorrow Never Knows," "If I Needed Someone," and of course, “Day Tripper.” During an interview with MTV, Steele revealed the steps the band took to get the rights to these deep cuts. As one can expect, it was a costly endeavor, but Steele jokes that perhaps the money wasn’t enough and that drummer Johnny Kelly had to seduce Yoko Ono. Whatever the case may be, Type O Negative once again redesigns already existing music and creates something that is completely, uniquely their own. —KI
"Summer Breeze"Originally by Seals & Croft
Seals & Croft’s “Summer Breeze” is a smooth, folky song that really captures the essence of its birth year: 1972. Type O Negative transforms this light and fun song into something that’s dark and sexy. The addition of sensual, breathy sighs from Steele as well as some cowbells give it that Type O Negative signature brand. —KI
"Paranoid"Originally by Black Sabbath
The appeal of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” has always been its quick hit format, clocking in at just under three minutes. It’s a rousing, riff-banging rocker and Type O Negative weren’t about to fall in line like everyone else and remain true to the original. Instead, they dragged this cover out to over seven, depressing, doom-ridden minutes, giving you ample time to reflect deeper on Geezer Butler’s words of a decaying mental state. —JD
"Cinnamon Girl"Originally by Neil Young
“Wow, this would make a great stripper song!” ...said nobody ever about the Neil Young classic “Cinnamon Girl.” Well, that is, until the Canadian folk rock track was met by the “four dicks from Brooklyn,” who wholly accentuated Young’s slightly undulating riffage to transform it into a full-tilt hip-grinder that would have left Elvis Presley clutching his pearls. It’s almost as if Type O took the last lyrics, “You see, my baby loves to dance,” as the inspiration to transform this rigid original into a melody-driven tune you can actually dance to, rather than tiptoe around the campfire. —JD
"Angry Inch"Originally on 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' Soundtrack
While cuts from Black Sabbath and The Doors might be predictable cover choices for Type O Negative, this song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a fantastic curveball. The musical-turned-film by John Cameron Mitchell centers around a rock musician who suffered a tragic accident during an operation intended to transform Hedwig from a man into a woman, which left her with a “one inch mound of flesh.” This darkly comic, punk rock showtune graphically details Hedwig’s plight, with lyrics such as “My sex-change operation got botched / My guardian angel fell asleep on the watch / Now all I got is a Barbie Doll-crotch.” The most iconic part of Type O Negative’s version is the moment when Steele delivers a spoken word monologue about his “first day as a woman” in his deep, thick Brooklyn accent. Despite the comedic element of this song, it still seriously rocks! —KI
"Black Sabbath (From the Satanic Perspective)"Originally by Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath’s eponymous song is arguably one of the darkest, heaviest, most sinister songs ever written. On a record that set the precedent for heavy metal, this lone song would also help shape the doom metal genre. It’s only fitting that Type O Negative tackle this iconic song as they are the kings of dark, doomy vibes. The band really makes this one their own. The addition of haunting keyboards, satanic chants and Peter Steele’s deep crooning culminate in a version of this song that might be even more evil than the original. —KI